Venezuelan man imprisoned in Miami by ICE released Thursday, senator says

Marco Aurelio Coello seeks asylum in US after tortured in Venezuela

MIAMI – A Venezuelan student who is seeking asylum in the U.S. after he was tortured in Venezuela was released Thursday from the Krome Detention Center, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said.

"'I'm so happy to be free," Marco Aurelio Coello said to reporters after arriving at his attorney's office.

Coello, 22, was detained Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he went to their office in Miami, believing that he was moving closer to getting asylum.

Instead, Coello was detained and taken to the Krome Detention Center in southwest Miami-Dade.

Coello said he fled Venezuela after members of the Bolivarian National Police took off his clothes and wrapped him in a rubber mat before beating him with a fire extinguisher and golf clubs.

The agents threatened to kill Coello, then an 18-year-old student, he said. He said they told him they were going to shoot him in the head or douse him with gasoline and set him on fire. He also said they used electric shocks to torture him.

"I feared for my life and the life of my family -- my father. I don't want to go to jail," Coello said.

Coello overstayed his tourist visa and had a pending political asylum request that allowed him to apply for a work permit, according to his attorney, Elizabeth Blandon.

Coello told reporters Thursday that he was "confused about the situation," but was "appreciative to everyone" who supported him.

ICE spokesman Nestor J. Yglesias said in a statement that Coello overstayed his visa and also had a previous misdemeanor criminal conviction.

"As a result, he violated the terms of his nonimmigrant status in the United States," Yglesias said. "ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."

About the Authors: